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New York mayor declares city 'epicenter'

Here are the latest updates from around the world.
Image: An Indonesian police officer sprays disinfectant in the Baiturrahman grand mosque, amid concerns of the COVID-19 coronavirus, in Banda Aceh
An Indonesian police officer sprays disinfectant in the Baiturrahman grand mosque, amid concerns of the COVID-19 coronavirus, in Banda Aceh on March 20, 2020.Chaideer Mahyuddin / AFP - Getty Images

Wall Street took another dive Friday as the Dow Jones Industrial Average sunk by 916 points and saw 18 percent of its value disappear over the course of the week.

The Dow saw all the gains made since President Donald Trump took office erased.

Also in New York City, the suspended presidential campaign of former Mayor Michael Bloomberg told staffers Friday there was a confirmed case of COVID-19 at its Times Square headquarters, a campaign official confirmed to NBC News.

New York Mayor Bill de Blasio said Friday evening the city has 5,151 coronavirus cases and 29 deaths associated with the virus. "We are now the epicenter of this crisis" in the United States, he said.

In California the number of cases, more than 1,000, has doubled in three days. Los Angeles County, the nation's most populous, reported it now has a total of 292 cases.

There are now more than 250,000 confirmed cases of the coronavirus around the world, according to Johns Hopkins University.

Full coverage of the coronavirus outbreak

Download the NBC News app for latest updates on the coronavirus outbreak.

This live coverage has ended. Continue reading March 21 Coronavirus news.

927d ago / 8:13 PM UTC

Production of Tom Hanks film halted

Production of an Elvis biopic featuring Tom Hanks has been officially postponed, its makers said Friday.

"Despite valiant efforts, due to current world events, production on the Elvis film cannot proceed at this time," a Warner Bros. spokesperson said. "We will commence principal photography once circumstances permit."

On March 11, Hanks said on social media that he and his wife had tested positive for COVID-19 and were isolating themselves in Australia, where the movie was being shot at a Warner Bros. satellite studio.

Filming was reportedly stopped around that time. Director Baz Luhrmann said on Twitter Friday, "We are not even taking our sets down, simply locking up the creative space over the next few days."

927d ago / 8:06 PM UTC
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927d ago / 7:47 PM UTC

Photo: Spanish hospital staff demand more equipment

Health services staff members protesting outside the Txagorritxu hospital demand more protective equipment Friday, March 20, 2020,
Protesting hospital staff demand more protective equipment Friday in Vitoria, Spain, the day after a Spanish nurse died from COVID-19 at another hospital in northern Spain.Alvaro Barrientos / AP
927d ago / 7:39 PM UTC

D.C. mayor extends schools closures, ban on mass gatherings

District of Columbia Mayor Muriel Bowser announced Friday that she's extending various city-wide restrictions and told residents to "stay home."

Through April 27, Washington, D.C. schools will continue distance learning, district government will continue teleworking and operating in modified status and the ban on mass gatherings will continue, she said during a news conference Friday.

"Stay home. More than everything, we need anyone who is not performing an essential service or activity to stay home. Don't treat this like a normal weekend. There will be more weekends, more nice days," Bowser said.

This comes after the first reported death of a person who tested positive for coronavirus in D.C. and confirmed cases spiked from 39 to 71 cases overnight. Cherry blossom trees in the nation's capital have reached peak bloom, a moment each spring that usually brings droves of admirers to the National Mall.

928d ago / 7:04 PM UTC

Archdiocese of Chicago churches ring bells calling for prayers

Five times a day, the bells will ring out in the Roman Catholic churches that dot the landscape in the city of Chicago as a call to prayer during the coronavirus crisis.

“Our hope is that people will have the experience of being united in prayer, especially at a time when we are so isolated,” said Cardinal Blase Cupich, who heads the third largest archdiocese in the U.S.

The archdiocese has also posted prayers on its website that could be said in the three major languages spoken in Chicago – English, Polish and Spanish.

928d ago / 7:02 PM UTC

California cases double in three days to over 1,000

The California Department of Public Health announced Friday the state now has exceeded 1,000 cases, more than doubling from just three days ago.

The new figures — 1,006 confirmed cases and 19 deaths — come a day after Gov. Gavin Newsom announced a statewide “stay at home” order for all of California’s 40 million residents, except for those working in critical industries, including health care, government, infrastructure and food distribution.

There were 472 cases in the state on March 17.

Los Angeles County, the country's most populous, reported 61 new cases Friday, bringing its total to 292. Ten percent of about 2,400 people tested through Wednesday have turned up positive in the county.

928d ago / 6:59 PM UTC

Two people with ties to Pentagon test positive

Two people with ties to the Pentagon have tested positive for coronavirus, Air Force officials said Friday. 

A defense contractor who works for the Air Force tested positive and was last in the building on March 2. An active duty member who works for Defense Health Agency, in Falls Church, Virginia, tested positive for COVID-19.  He was last in the Pentagon on Monday.  

928d ago / 6:37 PM UTC

Afternoon roundup of coronavirus coverage

Social distancing is here to stay for much more than a few weeks. It will upend our way of life, in some ways forever. [MIT Technology Review]

WhatsApp is at the center of coronavirus response [Wired]

New coronavirus package could unravel protections for students with disabilities [HuffPost]

928d ago / 5:58 PM UTC

Open? Closed? Florida officials settle on variety of decisions on beaches

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis on Friday ordered the closing beaches in two counties: Broward and Palm Beach. But without a statewide edict, local authorities have settled on a variety of decisions on how to handle people flooding to their shores. 

Many counties and cities have outright closed their beaches. Pinellas County — where Clearwater and St. Petersburg are located — was a holdout, but ordered its beaches closed before noon on Friday. (Clearwater had already voted to close its beaches.)

Meanwhile, Panama City Beach's chamber of commerce declared Thursday that beaches there aren't closed, and the town is "open for business." Beaches in the Florida Keys are also open — but its hotels, guest houses, short-term rentals in RV parks and vacation rentals will be closed to visitors starting Sunday, Monroe county's emergency management department ordered.

928d ago / 5:43 PM UTC

Trump campaign job listing asks students 'Are you looking to make the most of your quarantine?'

President Trump’s Wisconsin re-election campaign is offering high school and college students stuck at home a way to turn social distancing into a resume builder. 

“Hey students!” said a job listing posted by the Trump Victory Campaign on Friday. “Are you looking to make the most of your quarantine? Team Trump WI is offering fellowships that are 100% online for the remainder of the Spring semester, perfect for high school and college students whose semester ended early due to the COVID-19 outbreak.”

“Upon completion of the fellowship, letters of recommendation will be available. This dynamic program may also earn you college credit and may provide future job opportunities. Applications are accepted on a rolling basis.”

928d ago / 5:38 PM UTC

Death toll in Italy hits grim milestone

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Italian officials said Friday that 627 more deaths from the coronavirus were reported from the day before, bringing the death toll to 4,032 people. It is the biggest day-to-day increase in the country during this outbreak.

Across the country, which is in the second week of its nationwide quarantine, more than 47,000 have tested positive for the virus, up nearly 6,000 more people from Thursday, said Angelo Borrelli, the chief of Italy's Civil Protection.

Meanwhile, of those who have tested positive, more than 5,100 people have also recovered, officials said.

928d ago / 5:31 PM UTC

Washington state preps for possible rationing of care and ventilators for coronavirus patients

Wednesday night, 280 clinicians in Washington state dialed into a three-hour webinar to hear about the possibility that medical professionals across the state will have to begin rationing health-care — including precious ventilators — for coronavirus patients.

Officials say the trigger for rationing care, or invoking what are known as “crisis standards,” will be when there are more COVID-19 patients than ventilators. 

“If you are above a certain age and we have a shortage of ventilators, you don’t get one,” Cassie Sauer, CEO of the Washington State Hospital Association explained. “This has never happened in America at this level for this sustained time. … It is unprecedented and it should not happen.”

2010 study found Washington state had fewer than 1,000 ventilators. As of Thursday it had more than 1,300 confirmed cases of coronavirus, and had reported 74 deaths.

928d ago / 5:30 PM UTC

Sanders turns his campaign to coronavirus relief

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Bernie Sanders is shifting his focus from building political support to supporting efforts to respond to the coronavirus spread. The Vermont senator announced on Friday that he will host an online roundtable in Burlington, Vt., where he is "assessing the state of his campaign." 

The roundtable will be the first public comments from Sanders since he snapped at a reporter on Wednesday for asking about his timeline for deciding on the future of his campaign. Sanders has not publicly addressed Tuesday night's primaries, which were unanimously won by former Vice President Joe Biden.   

Image: Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) arrives at the U.S. Capitol for a vote
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) arrives at the U.S. Capitol for a vote on March 18, 2020.Win McNamee / Getty Images

Since then, Sanders senior adviser Tim Tagaris said the campaign has used social media platforms, email and text lists to "educate and activate people around his coronavirus response and raise big-money for charities helping people impacted.” On Thursday, the campaign sent an email to supporters prompting them to use a campaign-established fundraising page to donate to up to five charities helping people during the pandemic. 

Sanders also released a $2 trillion proposal on Monday that he said he would present to Democratic leadership that includes having Medicare, as it exists now, pay for all medical bills accrued during this emergency, whether or not the bill is related to the coronavirus.  

928d ago / 5:23 PM UTC

U.K. prime minister says restaurants and bars must temporarily close

U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced Friday that all bars, pubs and restaurants in the country must close on Friday and remain close, echoing similarly drastic measures taken in other parts of the world to stop the spread of the coronavirus. 

928d ago / 5:22 PM UTC

Coast Guard cadet tests positive for coronavirus

A Coast Guard Academy cadet in Florida has tested positive for COVID-19, the Coast Guard announced Friday. The Florida Department of Health's lab confirmed the results of a test received Thursday.

The cadet, a 20-year-old male, traveled to Europe for spring break along with six other cadets and a civilian friend. The group was visiting Spain when they were ordered to return to the United States based on the Presidential Proclamation suspending travel from Europe.

Upon returning home to Florida, the cadet became symptomatic and sought treatment and screening. The civilian from the group also tested positive for the coronavirus. The infected cadet remains in self-quarantine and the other six cadets are in self-isolation at their homes while arrangements are made for testing. They are in daily contact with the Coast Guard Academy's medical staff.

On March 13, Rear Admiral William Kelly, the superintendent of the academy, directed cadets to remain away from the academy for an additional two weeks following spring break.

928d ago / 5:07 PM UTC

Photo: Social distancing at London mosque

Friday Prayers At The Baitul Futuh Mosque
Attendees distance themselves from others as Friday prayers are observed at the Baitul Futuh Mosque in London. The mosque usually attracts around 7,000 people for Friday prayer but only a few hundred came this week.Dan Kitwood / Getty Images
928d ago / 5:06 PM UTC

'You're a terrible reporter': Trump berates NBC News reporter over coronavirus question

President Donald Trump on Friday excoriated an NBC News reporter as a “terrible reporter” after he asked the president for his message to Americans who are scared about the coronavirus pandemic.

At the Trump administration's coronavirus task force's daily briefing, NBC News’ Peter Alexander asked Trump about efforts being made to produce vaccinations for coronavirus and whether the president's “positive spin” regarding the potential drugs was giving Americans false hope.

“Is it possible that your impulse to put a positive spin on things may be giving Americans a false sense of hope?” Alexander asked.

“No, I don’t think so,” Trump replied. Read more on the story here.

928d ago / 4:35 PM UTC

Trump to suspend federal student loan payments for borrowers who want it

U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos said Friday that borrowers with federally held student loans would “have the option” to suspend their payments for at least two months.

In a statement delivered as President Donald Trump was speaking at his administration’s daily coronavirus task force briefing, DeVos said she had "directed all federal student loan services to grant an administrative forbearance to any borrower with a federally held loan who requests one" and that the forbearance "will be in effect for a period of at least 60 days."

DeVos said she had also authorized an automatic suspension of payments for any borrower more than 31 days delinquent as of March 13, 2020.

Trump said the waiving of interest on all federally held student loans — something he announced days earlier — was now going into effect.

928d ago / 4:22 PM UTC

U.S. closes border with Mexico to all 'nonessential' travel

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Friday that the U.S. and Mexico have agreed to restrict “nonessential travel across our border” due to the ongoing threat posed by the coronavirus pandemic. 

Pompeo, standing alongside President Donald Trump and other federal officials, made the announcement at the administration’s daily coronavirus task force briefing.

The restrictions go into effect on Saturday.

Acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf said the restrictions will not apply to essential travel, which includes travel for medical purposes and emergency response, public health services, attendance at educational institutions and “lawful cross-border trade.” 

Wolf said the U.S. will turn away all immigrants on the border who lack proper entry documentation.

928d ago / 4:19 PM UTC

Education Secretary allows states to cancel standardized tests

The students forced to stay at home due to school closures across the U.S. can bypass standard testing for the 2019-2020 school year, Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos announced Friday.

"Upon a proper request, the [Education] Department will grant a waiver to any state that is unable to assess its students due to the ongoing national emergency, providing relief from federally mandated testing requirements for this school year," the department said in a news release.

928d ago / 4:08 PM UTC

Navajo Nation's coronavirus cases rise to 14

Two days after confirming its first case of COVID-19, Navajo Nation officials said late Thursday that 14 people have now tested positive on the reservation, making up just over half of the cases in the state of Arizona.

Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez said the community of Chilchinbeto, with a population of 500 people, was being quarantined and isolated to help stop the spread of the coronavirus. The majority of the 14 cases involve individuals who initially reported their symptoms to the nearby Indian Health Service unit in Kayenta.

Nez said his order to shelter in place may also be applied to the entire Navajo Nation — the largest tribal reservation in the U.S., with 350,000 members — if reports become widespread.

928d ago / 4:05 PM UTC

Astronomy observatories will halt science operations

Several major telescopes and astronomy observatories around the world are closing and halting science operations until further notice.

The European Southern Observatory (ESO), an intergovernmental research organization made up of 16 member nations, announced Friday that its Paranal, La Silla and APEX astronomy observatories — all located in the Atacama Desert of northern Chile — will reduce the number of staff on site and gradually cease science operations.

“The sites are transitioning into a safe state with a minimal team on site to ensure the safety of the facilities and the remaining people,” ESO officials said in a statement.

The Atacama Large Millimeter/Submillimeter Array, a huge collection of radio telescopes located on Chile’s Chajnantor plateau, will also be shut down until further notice, according to ESO.

928d ago / 4:02 PM UTC

Indiana moves primary election to June 2

Indiana will postpone the state’s May 5 presidential primary amid the coronavirus outbreak, political leaders announced Friday.

Republican Gov. Eric Holcomb said during a news conference with the state GOP and Democratic chairmen that the state's primary will be shifted to June 2.

"Hoosiers have always come together in times of crisis and today’s bipartisan announcement to move Indiana’s primary election to June 2 is yet another example of that unity," the state GOP chair Kyle Hupfer said in a statement.

928d ago / 3:57 PM UTC

Stuck at home, many Americans turn to video games

With millions of Americans spending more time at home, video game-based internet traffic has surged. 

Steam, a computer-based gaming platform, broke a new record for online concurrent users with more than 21 million accounts online at the same time on Friday morning, according to third-party analytics platform SteamDB. 

The internet service providers are seeing increases in gaming traffic as well. Hans Vestberg, CEO of Verizon, told Bloomberg News that gaming traffic was up dramatically. 

“We see gaming up 75 percent week over week,” Vestberg said.

In Italy, one of the countries hit hardest by the pandemic, the national internet network Telecom Italia SpA said that internet usage has increased by more than 70 percent, with much of the data being used “from online gaming such as Fortnite,” the company told Bloomberg News. 

928d ago / 3:50 PM UTC

J.K. Rowling says 'Harry Potter' books can be read in online videos

Author J.K. Rowling has granted an open license to allow teachers to post videos of themselves reading aloud from "Harry Potter" books during the COVID-19 outbreak, a practice that is typically prohibited under copyright law without explicit permission from the author or publisher. 

As schools have closed down in an effort to stop the spread of the pandemic, parents and teachers have looked to the internet to keep children occupied. Entertainers, authors and teachers have started to offer craft projects, games, school classes and book readings via live streams or online videos. 

Rowling has granted these rights until the end of the school year, but teachers must only publish videos to closed educational platforms such as Google Classroom rather than public video channels such as YouTube. 

Rowling joins a list of publishers to issue open licenses for read aloud videos, including Simon & Schuster, HarperCollins Children’s Books, Penguin Random House and Scholastic. 

928d ago / 3:49 PM UTC
928d ago / 3:43 PM UTC

Job losses could quickly soar into the millions as coronavirus craters U.S. economy

Goldman Sachs predicts weekly jobless claims will skyrocket to 2.25 million by next Thursday, an astonishing reversal of fortune for a labor market that had been enjoying a sustained stretch of record-low unemployment as recently as a few weeks ago.

“The job market is in free fall,” said Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody’s Analytics. “Businesses have no choice but to reduce payrolls,” he said, adding that even those who remain employed face gloomy prospects.

“Most of those people, even if they don't lose their jobs, they're going to lose hours, they're going to lose pay,” he said.

Read the full story here.

928d ago / 3:40 PM UTC

Cuomo orders new restrictions in New York state: Nonessential businesses must cease

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New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced an executive order Friday calling for all nonessential businesses to cease work outside the home. He also put new requirements in place for all New Yorkers.

“Your actions can affect my health, that is where we are," Cuomo said.

Here's what's new:

  • Nonessential businesses, which had been reduced to partial workforces, must cease work.
  • Vulnerable people — those over 70 or with underlying health conditions — must follow a set of rules, including staying inside the home except for solitary exercise and avoiding public transportation.
  • All New Yorkers should practice careful social distancing, staying inside the home as much as possible.
  • Restrictions will be enforced with civil fines and mandatory closures of businesses not in compliance.

The governor also asked for people to sell or lend ventilators to the state. “Ventilators are to this war what missiles were to World War II,” Cuomo said.  “We need ventilators, that is the key piece of equipment. We can get the beds, we’ll get the supplies by hook or by crook.”

Cuomo said the state would pay businesses to make medical supplies. "I’ll fund a new business if you can make these products,” he said. "If you’re making clothing, figure out if you can make masks. I’ll fund it.”

Cuomo also announced that New York will implement a 90-day moratorium on evictions for residential and commercial tenants, expected to go into effect Sunday evening. He said his administration is working out what's considered essential business services and working with tech companies to lift data caps for customers at no charge. 

928d ago / 3:07 PM UTC
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928d ago / 2:42 PM UTC

Photo: Early morning shopping for seniors

Joseph Nathan
Joseph Nathan loads toilet paper into the trunk of his car after shopping at a Stop & Shop supermarket that opened special morning hours to serve people 60-years and older due to coronavirus concerns on Friday in Teaneck, N.J. For most people, COVID-19 causes only mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia.John Minchillo / AP
928d ago / 2:37 PM UTC

What's the new deadline for filing U.S. taxes?

Tax Day is being pushed back until July while the nation copes with the effects of the coronavirus, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin announced Friday.

"At @realDonaldTrump’s direction, we are moving Tax Day from April 15 to July 15. All taxpayers and businesses will have this additional time to file and make payments without interest or penalties," Mnuchin said in a pair of tweets.

"I encourage all taxpayers who may have tax refunds to file now to get your money."

928d ago / 2:28 PM UTC

NYC Mayor de Blasio: City to run out of medical supplies in 2-3 weeks

In a Friday morning appearance on MSNBC's Morning Joe, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said the city is running dangerously low on critical medical supplies amid onslaught of newly confirmed coronavirus cases. 

"We will run out of basic medical supplies because of the intense strain that's being put already on our hospitals by this crisis," de Blasio said. "We literally will not have the things we need to save people's lives."

De Blasio said New York City now has 4,000 confirmed cases and is currently an epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak in the United States.

The mayor said he has asked the federal government for help procuring ventilators for hospitals and surgical masks for both medical professionals and first responders like police and fire fighters.

"We've been saying it over and over to the federal government," de Blasio said. "Nothing."

928d ago / 1:58 PM UTC

Tulips from Amsterdam? Not in an outbreak

Image: Empty racks are seen at flower auctioneer Royal FloraHolland in Aalsmeer, Netherlands,
Empty racks are seen at flower auctioneer Royal FloraHolland in Aalsmeer, Netherlands on Thursday.Peter Dejong / AP

It is the peak spring season as fields around the Netherlands burst into vibrant colors as tulips and other flowers bloom. But with border restrictions and lockdowns spreading around the globe to fight the pandemic, even the pope will have to go without his usual Easter donation of Dutch flowers this year. He’s not the only one.

"The coronavirus is a disaster for the Dutch flower industry ... 85% of the turnover at our marketplace … is gone,” said Michel van Schie, press officer at Royal FloraHolland — a cooperative of growers that trades some 12 billion plants and flowers each year.

That's a huge hit for the Dutch flower industry, whose exports last year were worth more than 6 billion euros (about $6.5 billion). Instead, some Dutch farmers to give away tulips to health care workers as a token of appreciation for their work.

928d ago / 1:56 PM UTC

Wall Street jumps briefly as investors hedge a nervous return to optimism

Wall Street jumped briefly on Friday for the second straight day, with investor confidence slowly returning after massive emergency action from central banks and governments across the world to shore up the global financial system.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose by 130 points at the opening bell, while the S&P 500 was up by just under 1 percent, before both averages began a slow descent.

The Nasdaq outperformed, notching up gains of close to 2 percent after hitting the "limit up" threshold in premarket trading, halting activity. The tech-heavy index is seeing heightened interest, with investors confident the sector can survive any economic downturn.

928d ago / 1:49 PM UTC

NBC News employee dies after testing positive for coronavirus

A longtime employee of NBC News died Thursday after testing positive for the coronavirus, NBC News Chairman Andy Lack said in an email to staff.

Larry Edgeworth, who had been working in an equipment room at NBC News' 30 Rockefeller Plaza headquarters in New York, also suffered from other health issues, according to his wife. He had previously spent 25 years at NBC News working as an audio technician, where he was well-known to many network correspondents who traveled with him around the world.

"Many of you were fortunate enough to work with Larry over the years, so you know that he was the guy you wanted by your side no matter where you were," Lack wrote Friday morning.

928d ago / 1:31 PM UTC

Morning roundup of coronavirus coverage

The doctor who helped defeat smallpox explains what's coming [Wired]

Why the coronavirus kills far more men than women [The Washington Post]

Fleeing virus for resort homes, some find welcome mat yanked [The Associated Press]

928d ago / 1:27 PM UTC

What it's like to be a college senior in the middle of a pandemic

Chelsea Stahl / NBC News; Photos Courtesy of Isabela Espadas Barros Leal

A little over a week ago my classmates and I were huddled in libraries studying for our midterms the way we did every semester. But on the evening of March 8, the night before many of our first exams, an email from Columbia University’s president confirmed what we had previously thought to be just a rumor: The entire university would be moving to online instruction as a result of the growing threat of the coronavirus in New York City.

Read the full essay at NBC News THINK.

928d ago / 1:23 PM UTC

NY, NJ, CT, PA govs order closure of barbershops, nail and hair salons

The governors of New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and Pennsylvania are directing the temporary closure of barbershops, nail and hair salons, and other personal care service businesses amid the coronavirus outbreak.

The order goes into effect on Saturday at 8 p.m. ET.

"All barbershops, hair salons, tattoo or piercing parlors, nail salons, hair removal services, and related personal care services will be closed to members," the governors said in a joint statement, "as these services cannot be provided while maintaining social distance."

928d ago / 1:14 PM UTC

Britain's changing of the guard to be postponed

Image: A man watches the Changing of the Guard ceremony outside Buckingham Palace on the day that Queen Elizabeth II is set to move to Windsor Palace in a bid to avoid the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic on March 18, 2020 in London,
A man watches the changing of the guard ceremony outside Buckingham Palace.Leon Neal / Getty Images

Britain's ceremonial changing of the guard has been postponed until further notice in keeping with the government's guidance to avoid mass gatherings, Buckingham Palace said Friday.

The ceremony will be postponed at Buckingham Palace, St James’s Palace and Windsor Castle, and will restart "when appropriate."

The move came a day after the Queen and Prince Phillip left Buckingham Palace for Windsor Castle, west of London, due to the outbreak.

928d ago / 12:59 PM UTC

Communities rally around one another — and Google Docs — to bring coronavirus aid

Americans are using an array of digital tools — from Google docs and Facebook groups to money transfer apps, Twitter and the neighborhood-focused social network Nextdoor — to form local mutual aid groups to help their most vulnerable neighbors and anyone else who could use help as the country adjusts to self-quarantine.

 Alycia Kamil, 19, organized a group with other young people in Chicago to go shopping for low-income people in their Chicago neighborhoods who were recently forced out of work.

Jalen Kobayashi, Deja Swint, and Alycia Kamil, volunteers from the youth-led anti-gun violence group Good Kids Mad City, deliver groceries to neighbors in Chicago.
Jalen Kobayashi, Deja Swint, and Alycia Kamil, volunteers with Good Kids Mad City, deliver groceries to neighbors in Chicago.Alycia Kamil

“Our goal was to raise about $300 and be able to give about 30 families food,” Kamil said. “We ended up raising over $7,000 in just two days and more is coming. We are really excited.”

Read the full story here.

928d ago / 12:27 PM UTC

Death toll in Spain climbs above 1,000

Spanish health authorities said on Friday that 1,002 people have died in the country since the outbreak, while infections have reached 19,980 — over 3,000 more confirmed cases than the day before.

Spain is in its first week of a lockdown as its government works to reduce the rising contagion rate and give relief to its strained health care system.

Spain is the second-hardest-hit country by COVID-19 in Europe, behind Italy — whose death toll surpassed China's on Thursday.

928d ago / 12:22 PM UTC

First British arrest for failure to self-isolate on the Isle of Man

A man has been arrested on the Isle of Man for failing to comply with the island’s new rules on self-isolation, the first such arrest in the British Isles. 

The rules, which came into effect just before midnight on Thursday, say that anyone visiting the island must self-isolate for 14 days, whether or not they show symptoms of the coronavirus. Noncompliance can result in up to three months' jail time or a fine of 10,000 English pounds

In a tweet, the Isle of Man Police said that the man would be detained in a specially cleaned area of custody designated for those who should be self-isolating. The island’s chief constable called the measures extraordinary, but added that “failing to follow self-isolation requirements is a serious matter."

News of the arrest came at the same time that the island’s first case of coronavirus was confirmed. The Manx Government said in a statement that the patient who tested positive had recently returned from Spain, and that the island’s Public Health Directorate would begin contact tracing.

928d ago / 11:56 AM UTC

Fauci: Americans will likely need to stay home for at least several weeks

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said Friday that Americans will likely have to continue staying at home and practice social distancing for “at least several weeks.”

“If you look at the trajectory of the curves of outbreaks and other areas, at least going to be several weeks,”Fauci said in an interview with Savannah Guthrie on the “TODAY” show when asked how long he thinks Americans will have to practice social distancing. 

“I cannot see that all of a sudden, next week or two weeks from now it's going to be over. I don't think there's a chance of that. I think it's going to be several weeks.”

When speaking about whether it’s time for President Donald Trump to use the Defense Production Act to produce critical supplies, Fauci suggested that the U.S. should be doing everything in its power to slow the outbreak.

“I think we should do everything we possibly can do. I mean, in all sectors, because obviously as I've said so many times, when you think you're maybe overreacting, you probably are not acting as forcefully as you should. So as we've always said, we've got to try very much to stay ahead of the curve.”

928d ago / 11:48 AM UTC

China urges U.S. to ‘stop slandering’ and ‘play a constructive role’

China responded to President Trump's use of the term "Chinese virus," with a spokesperson for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs saying that the U.S. should play a "constructive role" to safeguard international public health. 

“We hope that the United States will respect objective facts, respect international public opinion, do its own thing, stop constantly shifting its attitude, stop slandering other countries, and shifting responsibilities,” Geng Shuang, a spokesperson for China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said on Friday. 

The president has defended his use of term, saying in a press conference, "it's not racist at all, no. It comes from China." He was photographed on reading from notes on Thursday at a coronavirus press conference with the word "corona" crossed out and replaced with "Chinese."

928d ago / 11:45 AM UTC

Coronavirus is a 'personal nightmare' for people with OCD and anxiety disorders

Sarah Mergens showed signs of obsessive-compulsive disorder long before she was diagnosed with it as an adult. It initially took the shape of harmless quirks, like organizing dinosaur toys by shape and color. 

As an adult, Mergens, 27, held her OCD symptoms at bay through exposure and response prevention therapy, supportive friends and family and internal pep talks. Then COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, began to spread and threatened to set her back on the progress she's made in convincing herself that her fear of circulating an illness is overblown. The virus, she said, is her "personal nightmare."

Over 2 million Americans are estimated to be affected by OCD, according to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America. Nearly 7 million people in the U.S. are affected by generalized anxiety disorder and about 6 million by panic disorder. While the concern about the COVID-19 pandemic has upended the lives of Americans from all walks of life, interviews with people with mental health issues, as well as counselors who are treating them, reflect a particular chaos the virus has caused.

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928d ago / 11:32 AM UTC

Pittsburgh mayor announces self-quarantine

Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto said Thursday night that he's going to self-quarantine for 14 days after coming into contact with at least two people in Washington, D.C. who have tested positive for coronavirus. 

“I have absolutely no symptoms. I feel great,” Peduto said in the video that was posted on social media.

928d ago / 11:30 AM UTC

Greta Thunberg strikes for the climate online

Climate activist Greta Thunberg urged her followers and supporters on Friday to strike for the climate online for the second week in a row, in order to "act in full solidarity with those at risk" of coronavirus.

In a post last week, Thunberg advocated for a #DigitalStrike because, "in a crisis we change our behavior and adapt to the new circumstances."

928d ago / 10:35 AM UTC

Delayed by sanctions, first medical aid trickles into North Korea

The first shipments of international medical aid are due to arrive at North Korea’s borders this week to shore up its defenses against the coronavirus, but strict border controls could mean the stream of supplies remains a trickle.

Some aid organizations had to get emergency sanction exemptions from the United Nations to clear the way for the shipments and are now navigating North Korea’s border controls imposed in a bid to shut out the virus.

North Korea has not reported any confirmed cases of the virus, though a top U.S. military official said last week he is “fairly certain” there were infections in North Korea.

North Korea is especially vulnerable to an outbreak as its health system lacks resources, in part because of international sanctions imposed over its nuclear weapons programs, ,say aid organizations.

928d ago / 10:19 AM UTC

928d ago / 9:56 AM UTC

Colorado National Guard pitches in at drive-up testing station

Image: Members of the Colorado National Guard help out at a coronavirus drive-up testing station in Telluride, Colorado.
Members of the Colorado National Guard help out earlier this week at a coronavirus drive-up testing station in Telluride, Colorado, which has introduced mandatory testing for all residents.Colorado National Guard
928d ago / 9:31 AM UTC

Uncertainty bites as London pubs, restaurants consider shutting

The Northcote Arms has been a pub since 1890, surviving two world wars, several global financial crises and even the flu of 1918, which killed tens of millions of people.

Now this traditional watering hole in the east London neighborhood of Leyton is one of countless businesses around the world facing the prospect of being crushed by the spiraling pandemic.

"It's just like quicksand," said Tuesday Roberts, 39, who runs the pub. "Every time I come up with a plan, I have to scrap it two days later. The situation just gets worse and worse."

As well as attacking physical health, the virus is also threatening to trigger a huge wave of unemployment in the U.S. and across Europe as governments urge or force people to stay away from public spaces, such as bars, restaurants, theaters, sports venues and airports.

Read the full story here.

928d ago / 9:18 AM UTC

928d ago / 9:02 AM UTC

Animated map shows drop in emissions over China

Data from the European Space Agency shows a drop in nitrogen dioxide emissions over China between December and March.

As strict measures were implemented to stem the outbreak, factories closed and streets were cleared. This led to a dramatic reduction in nitrogen dioxide emissions — those released by power plants, industrial facilities and vehicles — in all major Chinese cities between late-January and February.

Similar data has also shown a decline over northern Italy coinciding with its nationwide lockdown to prevent the spread of coronavirus.

928d ago / 8:48 AM UTC

Wembley Stadium in London lights up to thank health workers

Image: Wembley Stadium in London lights up its arch to show support for National Health Service workers.
Wembley Stadium in London lights up its arch to show support for National Health Service workers on Thursday night.Wembley Stadium
928d ago / 6:34 AM UTC

No new domestic cases in China for second day in row

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China’s National Health Commission on Friday reported no new local coronavirus cases, which marked the second time it has done so since the epidemic began.

There were 39 new cases reported on the mainland Thursday, but all were called “new imported confirmed cases.” Deaths on the mainland rose by three, bringing the total dead to 3,248, according to the health commission’s numbers. 

There have been 80,967 cases reported on the mainland in all, the national health commission said.

Italy has surpassed China in total deaths connected to the coronavirus, with the country reporting 3,405 fatalities as of Thursday afternoon Eastern Time.

The coronavirus outbreak began in China, but the World Health Organization said last week that Europe has become the new epicenter of the pandemic.

928d ago / 6:18 AM UTC

When should someone get tested for coronavirus?

928d ago / 5:53 AM UTC

Invictus Games postpones, looks ahead to 2021

The Invictus Games scheduled for May 9-16 in The Hague have been postponed until next year because of coronavirus pandemic, organizers of the international competition for veterans announced Thursday.

“We are now investigating all options to reschedule the Invictus Games, subject to the availability of key facilities and resources, to May or June 2021,” organizers said in a statement.

Prince Harry, patron of the Invictus Games Foundation, said in a video that "this was an incredibly difficult decision for all of us to have to make." 

928d ago / 4:32 AM UTC

Olympic flame lands in Japan as doubts grow over Tokyo games

MATSUSHIMA AIR BASE, Japan — The Olympic flame arrived in Japan on Friday from Greece in a scaled-down ceremony at an air base in northern Japan.

The flame, carried in a special canister, touched down amid growing doubts if the Tokyo Games can open as scheduled on July 24 because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Organizers and the International Olympic Committee say it will, but postponement or cancellation is viewed increasingly as a possible option.